The Scorpion Stingerette,vintage sled,Marilyn Vallier,Naubinway

Vintage Sled of the Month: The Scorpion Stingerette

First, I want to do a little something special this month. Before we get into the whole thing about the Stingerette, I want to give a shout out to a very special lady. She is Marilyn Vallier, a curator of the Top of The Lake Snowmobile Museum in Naubinway, which is perhaps the best snowmobile museum in the Great Lakes area and one of the best in the world.

Marilyn has been there since the start. Her husband, Charlie, is a founder of the Naubinway Antique and Vintage Snowmobile Show, the forerunner of today’s Top of the Lake Antique Snowmobile Show and Ride, and the show that led to the start of the museum.

From the start, Marilyn was always very involved. Since the doors opened, she has been the happy, smiling face most people see when they enter the museum. She puts in countless hours behind the receptionist desk.

Also, from years of accompanying Charlie literally all over the U.S. and Canada following shows and leads on old snowmobiles, she has become something of an expert herself. However, most times, it is Charlie that everyone talks about.

Marilyn Vallier of Top of The Lake Snowmobile Museum in Naubinway
Marilyn Vallier

But, for this issue, we are saluting the Women of Snowmobiling, and I want to give a huge salute to Marilyn Vallier, one of the unsung heroes of the snowmobiling world.
She also does the museum’s newsletter and helps do most of the shows the museum attends, such as the recent Eagle River Derby Show.

Along with Charlie, she packs and unpacks the trailer … pretty much endlessly as they go from event to event. But, at each event, and always at the museum, she comes across with her huge smile and a very warm welcome to all.

So, this month, stop into the museum in Naubinway and give her a big “thank you.” Without her, this museum would not be the same.

Now, back to our regularly scheduled column: the Stingerette. Most of you diehard sledders might already have heard of the Scorpion. Back in the day, they were a very popular sled. They were made from about the early 1960s until about 1981. Then, Arctic Cat bought the Scorpion. When Arctic Cat had some issues, like a bankruptcy, the Scorpion brand was dropped, except for a brief return in 2000-2001.

The Scorpion’s real glory days were the 1960s and 1970s. Then, they were one of the top sleds on the market.

Vintage sled, the Stingerette

The Scorpion Stingerette,vintage sled,Marilyn Vallier,Naubinway

Scorpion began back in about 1959, when three guys, Glen Gutzman, Eugene Harrison and his son, Richard, formed a company called Trail A Sled.

They started out selling what was basically an air boat made for snow, driven by a propeller. Then they noticed the “tracked snowmobile” that J. Armand Bombarier was selling.

They decided this was going to be the future of snow travel.

So, they started to produce snowmobiles. They had their first prototype in 1961. They worked with it for a couple years, while still making and selling their Trail A Sled machines. Then, in something of a story from that era, Glen literally strapped the company’s one and only snowmobile to the top of his Volkswagen and headed out. He came back with a contract for 100 sleds — and the Scorpion was born.

They then became one of the bigger sled makers of the Golden Age of snowmobiling. They sold a lot of sleds, with a lot of different models and designs.

In 1972, they came out with something totally different — the Stingerette. This was made and designed specifically for women, which had never been done before.

You have to remember that back then gender-based role models were still very much the norm. Dad went to work; Mom stayed home and took care of the house and kids. Doctors were male; nurses were female. And on and on. And snowmobiles were mostly a “man” thing.

With many companies making snowmobiles, everyone was looking for new markets. Wanting to be innovators, the makers of the Scorpion wanted to get into a market that had not been addressed, namely women. So, of course, they came out with a pink sled. Called Midnight Sun Magenta, the color was one women would love — or so they hoped.

They also had a few different designs. First, they made them with lower compression engines that were easier to start. And they made them more stable, plus a few other options. But the biggest design was the hot pink color.

Yet the women back then were not all silly and giddy over this idea. They never quite took off the way the makers thought they would, and the run was short. The last were made in 1974.

But they were the first sleds designed for women, and this led to the idea that women like to ride sleds, too. So, this sled really does have a place in snowmobiling history. It was the first acknowledgement by a major manufacturer that they were looking at women as sledders.

Something we take for granted today, with a little help from the Stingerette.

If you want to see one of these sleds in person, you can find a 1972 Stingerette at the museum in Naubinway. And, as mentioned earlier, stop in and say “hi” and “thank you” to Marilyn. In honor of Breast Cancer Awareness Month, please help us honor the women of snowmobiling.

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